“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce
Is making New Year Resolutions an annual ritual for you?
Setting goals for the year ahead shows a desire to change and improve your life for the better, which is wonderful!
But, for some of us our resolutions don’t get past the ‘planning’ stage!
So, what is the secret to setting New Year Resolutions that will stick?
Here are 8 ways to set New Year Resolutions that will last throughout 2009:
#1 Set manageable goals
While enthusiasm is really important, if you set your sights too high the idea of breaking those habits you’ve held for years can seem overwhelming.
So, rather than promising to lose 50 pounds over the year, go for a more step-by-step approach, by focusing on one small step at a time.
Then as each new behavior becomes a habit for you, move on to your next goal and repeat the process.
#2 Make lasting changes
If you normally set year-long goals, try setting goals that are for life this year, not simply a few months.
For example, if you want to lose weight, rather than going on the latest ‘diet,’ try setting goals that will build upon each other, and eventually improve your health well into the future.
This may seem like a very small change, but it can have a massive impact on your overall health.
Ultimately you will lose weight, but you have changed your mental focus to ‘improving my health,’ rather than ‘dieting,’ which is much healthier!
#3 Set personal goals
We often make the mistake of setting goals we think we should want, or those we think others want for us.
If you are going to be successful, it’s important that you set goals that are meaningful to you personally.
When you are setting your goals keep asking yourself, “Are these goals important to me?”
#4 Be specific
If your goals don’t come with a plan of action, you won’t have any focus; in fact your goals are nothing more than wishes!
Saying, “I wish I could be thinner,” is not a call for action. Instead try something like this:
“I plan on get healthier this year. First, I will begin by giving up my 3-a-day soda habit, then I will add two more portions of veggies to my diet, after that I will take that aerobics class I’ve been promising myself!”
By doing this you are specifying the sequence of events that must happen, so that you can ultimately move closer to the bigger goal of ‘being thinner!’
You should also time-limit your resolutions – do you intend to achieve your goal in one week, month, or year?
Not only does this give you something to work towards, but it also helps you to see how much progress you’ve made.
#5 Record your goals
Making a record of what you want to achieve is a really important step, so don’t skip it!
Having your desires written down automatically changes them from wishes to achievable goals.
I’d suggest writing down everything you want to achieve; if you have a very long list ask yourself, “What is the most important goal at the present time?” and then focus on this initially.
#6 Commit to learning
Try to learn as much as you can to improve your health throughout the year.
For example, if your goal was to eat healthier:
- Focus on it one step at a time – say eating more veggies initially.
- Apply 10 minutes each day towards completing this goal, or towards learning more about it.
- Check out recipe sites, read books and magazines, ask friends for advice.
#7 Be accountable to someone
Do you tell your friends about the New Year’s Resolutions you’ve set?
Very often we don’t bother to tell anyone – this way we won’t have to own up if we fail!
But, by telling someone about your intentions you automatically increase your changes of being successful, because you’re now liable to someone other than yourself.
This is a great way to help you stay on track.
Try to choose someone with a positive attitude to change, someone who is supportive and encouraging.
If your friends and family aren’t really there for you on this, why not check out one of the ‘buddy systems’ available online? Here are 2 examples:
- CoMotivate – set up your free personal profile, create your goal, and then choose your buddy. After this you can help each other stay on track.
- Weight loss buddy – they will hook you up with a weight loss partner for free. You can then motivate each other, and hold each other accountable.
Another great way of staying in track is to keep a journal. You can use it to track your eating habits, emotions, weight loss, exercise regimen, or whatever else you find useful.
#8 Don’t give up
So, sometimes you fall off the bandwagon…it’s no big deal! Try not to blow it out of proportion; remember falling short is a fact of life for all of us!
Instead of giving up at the first hurdle, trace back over your week and find out what went wrong. How you can avoid, or overcome this in the future?
Make it your new practice to accept setbacks, try to learn from them, and then move on.
Sir Winston Churchill said,
“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
What New Year’s Resolutions will you be working on this year?
If you’d like more tips on setting New Year’s Resolutions, check out 5 Goal Setting Tips For The New Year.